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Connie Hawkins and the battle to rename the playground in Brooklyn

The ringleaders of the gambling ring went to jail. In the end, Hawkins was not charged, but the perception that he played a role in fixing the game turned him into a pariah. Under pressure from Iowa, he dropped out of college. The NBA refused to allow any of their teams to join him, so he pursued less prestigious opportunities. For eight years after leaving college, he played for the Pittsburgh Rens of the American Basketball League for short, traveled the country in cramped buses for the Harlem Globetrotters, and eventually won the championship for the Pittsburgh Pipers. of the American Basketball Association. .

Despite his outcast status, he made a strong impression on those who watched him compete – especially at city park summer tournaments, where he could be seen. throw down his NBA colleagues. More than most of his contemporaries, he was responsible for pioneering the soaring, fluid style that would define the modern game. “Everybody plays like him,” said Hall of Fame forward Spencer Haywood. “And no one knows who he is.”

In 1961, Hawkins met attorney S. David Litman, whose brothers owned the Pittsburgh Rens. Convinced of his innocence, Mr. Litman and his wife, Attorney Roslyn Litman, then pressed the NBA to grant a hearing permit to Hawkins. When that didn’t work out, they filed a long-running lawsuit. Unsurprisingly, Hawkins ended up winning a multi-million dollar payout, which included a contract to play with new Phoenix team, the Suns.

In April 1970, still limping from a serious knee injury he had sustained the year before, he led his new teammates to the seventh game of the playoff series with the dominant Lakers. But his goalkeeper was behind him. Some suspect that the punitive conditions of life in the second division have aged him beyond 28 years.

Although his portrait now hangs in the Basketball Hall of Fame, there’s no telling how much more he’ll accomplish, or how much he could earn, if the NBA lets him know. Allow him the opportunity to clear his name in the first place. His grandson, Shawn Hawkins, who grew up on a difficult housing project in Pittsburgh, said Connie Hawkins did not leave an inheritance to relatives. “He could have promoted the whole family,” he said. “He could have brought a lot of people with him, but he traded himself in.”

According to young Hawkins, the NBA, which has highlighted its history this year to celebrate its 75th anniversary, has never officially acknowledged any wrongdoing or suggested Connie Hawkins or his family It’s an apology. A league spokesman said he did not know enough about Hawkins’ case to comment, noting that no one working for the NBA was around during that time.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/nyregion/connie-hawkins-brooklyn-basketball-playground.html Connie Hawkins and the battle to rename the playground in Brooklyn

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